What is a fishery?
The term ‘fishery’ is frequently used, but what does it mean? The Oxford Dictionary of Environment and Conservation provides us with a current definition of a fishery: ‘a place where fish are caught and processed and sold’.
The precise meaning of ‘fishery’, particularly when reading historical sources, can vary and is context-dependent. It can refer to:
- the place where fish are caught, the fishing-ground
- the activity of catching fish from sea or rivers
- a fishing establishment, i.e. all those who are engaged in fishing in a particular location
In 1812 Edward Wakefield, the English philanthropist and statistician, suggested four classifications of Irish fisheries: (i) inland fisheries, (ii) white fisheries (cod, ling etc.), (iii) the herring fishery and (iv) the shell fishery, including lobsters, oysters etc. (Vol II, p.83).